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HSE  & HSENI updated guidance for new & expectant mothers: Individual Risk Assessments


Both the Health & Safety Executive in GB (HSE) & and Northern Ireland (HSENI) have updated their guidance stating employers must carry out Individual Risk Assessments

for all workers who:

  • are pregnant;
  • have given birth in the last six months;
  • are currently breastfeeding.

This is in addition to the General Risk Assessment that employers must complete to assess any potential risks to women of childbearing age.

This requirement applies to all workers which the guidance confirms includes gig economy, agency or temporary workers who should be treated no differently to other workers.

Until now, there was some ambiguity surrounding when employers were required to conduct individual risk assessments for pregnant employees. This update removes that ambiguity and clarifies that employers must complete an Individual Risk Assessment for all pregnant workers.

The Guidance states that:

“Once your worker has informed you in writing [of their pregnancy], you must complete an individual risk assessment and make any necessary changes to support them.”

To complete the risk assessment the employer should:

  • Review their existing general risk management and controls for pregnant workers and new mothers;
  • Talk to the worker to see if there are any conditions or circumstances with their pregnancy that could affect their work;
  • Discuss any concerns they have about how their work could affect their pregnancy;
  • Consult with their safety representative or trade union if they have one.

Employers must also take account of any medical recommendations provided by the pregnant worker’s doctor or midwife.

Having conducted an initial Individual Risk Assessment, it states that employers should review their worker’s individual risk assessment and make any necessary adjustments as:

  • The pregnancy progresses or;
  • if any significant changes to workers’ activity or workplace.

Employers should also record their findings and share them with the worker and their safety representative if they have one, explaining how you will keep them and their child safe.

If a risk is identified, it sets out that the steps that should then be taken that includes:

1.    Adjust the working conditions or hours to avoid the risk

2.    Give them suitable alternative work

3.    Suspend your employee on paid leave for as long as necessary to protect their health and safety and that of their child

The Guidance also includes sections on ‘Rest and breastfeeding at work’ and ‘Night work.’

You can access the Guidance for Northern Ireland here HSENI Guidance New & Expectant Mothers and for Great Britain HSE Protecting Pregnant Workers & New Mothers